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Drug Consumption Rooms and Public Health Policy: Perspectives of Scottish Strategic Decision-Makers

Nicholls, James; Livingston, Wulf; Perkins, Andy; Cairns, Beth; Foster, Rebecca; Trayner, Kirsten M. A.; Sumnall, Harry R.; Price, Tracey; Cairney, Paul; Dumbrell, Josh; Parkes, Tessa


James Nicholls

Wulf Livingston

Andy Perkins

Beth Cairns

Kirsten M. A. Trayner

Harry R. Sumnall

Tracey Price

Paul Cairney

Josh Dumbrell

Tessa Parkes


There is widespread support for the introduction of Drug Consumption Rooms (DCRs) in Scotland as part of a policy response to record levels of drug-related harm. However, existing legal barriers are made more complex by the division of relevant powers between the UK and Scottish Governments. This paper reports on a national, qualitative study of key decision-makers in both local and national roles across Scotland. It explores views on the political barriers and enablers to the adoption of Drug Consumption Rooms and the potential role of these facilities in the wider treatment system. It also considers approaches to evidence, especially the types of evidence that are considered valuable in supporting decision-making in this area. The study found that Scottish decision-makers are strongly supportive of DCR adoption; however, they remain unclear as to the legal and political mechanisms that would make this possible. They view DCRs as part of a complex treatment and support system rather than a uniquely transformative intervention. They see the case for introduction as sufficient, on the basis of need and available evidence, thus adopting a pragmatic and iterative approach to evidence, in contrast to an appeal to traditional evidence hierarchies more commonly adopted by the UK Government.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 26, 2022
Online Publication Date May 27, 2022
Publication Date 2022-05
Deposit Date Sep 20, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 22, 2022
Journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 11
Article Number 6575
Keywords drug consumption rooms; safer injecting facilities; overdose prevention centres; drugs; policy; harm reduction; interventions; harm reduction; problem drug use; public health; Scotland
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